Monday, December 11, 2017

CHRISTMAS JOY - by James Tharp

Our gracious God made it clear that He wanted the coming of His Son Jesus Christ into the world to bring great joy to everyone. We first hear about the joy that Jesus brings the world in the angel’s announcement to the shepherds in the field watching over their flocks at night: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11, NKJV).

And let us hear Jesus speak of the kind of joy He came to bring those who would place their trust in Him: “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” (John 17:13, NIV). Remember that (in verses 9-19) Jesus is praying to the Heavenly Father for His disciples. Jesus is in a role as an Advocate, a Petitioner, and a Supplicant on behalf of believers. And our Heavenly Father is the Petitioned One. Given this kind of loving concern on the part of both Father and Son, we Christians need not fail.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Glorious Resurrection - by James Tharp

All across the Christian centuries billions have rejoiced in the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And all true believers today rejoice in reading the angel’s announcement to the two Marys when they visited the empty tomb of Jesus. 
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7, NKJV)
The first thing Jesus had to do after His resurrection was convince those who had believed in Him
that He really was alive again. Many times Jesus had emphasized to His disciples that it was the will of the Father that He die for the sins of all who would believe in Him but that He would be raised
from the dead. He had also repeatedly warned the Jews that their rejection of Him and His ensuing death would result in the judgment of God upon their nation and their city of Jerusalem. He had come to His own, and they had not received Him.

In the Gospel of Luke we have a special emphasis on both the birth and the resurrection of Jesus. The meaning of each is to be found not simply in the events themselves but in the clearly emphasized interpretation given them in the Scriptures. Luke revealed the real entrance of God into human history through the birth of His Son Jesus Christ the Messiah, born of a woman. He wanted to show the real bodily birth and bodily death of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

ADVENT SEASON 2016 - By James Tharp

Throughout the month of December the Christian world is observing the coming of Jesus Christ’s first advent into the world.

We read in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 2, verses 8-14: “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord
stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (NKJV)

We have so many portraits of Jesus throughout the galleries of the world. As a result, there is much confusion, not only about what He looked like, but also about who He really was and is.

God the Father intended for a lost world to know for sure exactly who His Son is and why He came to earth. I fear that all too many over the world hold conflicting images of the Christ; all too often they are pressed forward by those who would have Jesus squeezed into that of a philosopher or a politician. God is not pleased with those who misrepresent who Jesus is. We read the true answer about the real Jesus in Matthew 1:18-21 where the angel Gabriel appears to Joseph, a godly man engaged to be married to the virgin Mary, reassuring him that he should proceed with the marriage, despite Mary’s pregnancy: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (NKJV)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Priority of Prayer - By Pastor Jim Tharp

Even though most people believe in prayer, I would remind us that it is not a natural instinct. Rather, it is a spiritual need. It is as much a need for a born-again Christian as it is for a newly-born baby to cry for milk.

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who came from Heaven to become one of us—the Son of God becoming the Son of Man—is our example for prayer. Even though He was the Son of God, He needed to pray to His Father in Heaven. Although He never sinned and was absolutely holy, He needed to pray to His Father and give thanks. In His humanity, He needed strength for His earthly mission. Jesus’ main purpose in coming to earth was to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins—it was His assignment by the Father; and in His human needs, He must pray for His needs—wisdom and strength.

Jesus selected twelve men whom He called His disciples, who would become His apostles, to be trained and sent forth to proclaim the Gospel, the good news that anyone who would believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord would be forgiven of sin and receive eternal life. These believers would not be lost eternally, but they would be redeemed, regenerated, reclaimed as children of God.

These twelve apostles became greatly interested in the way Jesus prayed. They knew that He often slipped away to be alone in prayer with the Father. But at times they would overhear His praying. They listened carefully to His prayers.

Once, when Jesus was apart praying, they grew interested and moved closer to hear how He was praying. They were impressed with His worship of the Father, His trust in the Father to hear Him, how intent and fervent He grew in His praying at times. So, on this occasion they made the request, “Lord, teach us to pray!”

Now Jesus knew that some of these twelve had been followers of John the Baptist, His forerunner. And He knew that John had taught them about prayer. But Jesus also knew that He wanted to teach His disciples a way to pray in which, when He and the Father, send them the Holy Spirit to indwell them, they would be enabled to pray with power—be inspired to pray, enlightened to pray, energized to pray, and emboldened in praying.

So Jesus laid out a model prayer for them. He also wanted to teach them how to pray with confidence and persistence. In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 11:2-4, Jesus answers their request in brief, simple, and comprehensive form. There are seven petitions:

1. “Our Father … in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.” 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pentecostal Fire - by James Tharp

Jesus said, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled” (Luke 12:49).

            John the Baptist had introduced Jesus as one who would baptize His followers “with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11). Jesus knew what was ahead in His coming crises, but He is looking forward to the coming Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit that would introduce the Church age, the dispensation of Grace, the era of the Holy Spirit.

            Jesus might have also had in mind the prophecy of Joel: “… I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days
(Joel 2:28-29).

            Jesus Himself, as a man, was filled with the Holy Spirit. And in the power of the Holy Spirit He trained His disciples, worked miracles, revealed the truth about God’s love for lost humanity, and completed His mission by dying an atoning death and shedding His blood in payment for the sins of all who would believe in Him. Throughout His life, from the time He grasped His relationship with His Heavenly Father to the moment of His death on the cross, Jesus longed for the day the Holy Spirit would be poured out in holy fire to give birth to His Church and the dispensation of grace that would result in bringing about His Bride.

            Following His resurrection from the dead, Jesus gathered His eleven disciples for a special order: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

            Just before His ascension to the Father our Risen Lord ordered His disciples to go back into the city and tarry, (pray, wait, and plead) for the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy; wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit— stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).

            Let all Christians today be thankful to God that Jesus spoke with such conviction to the disciples that they made the connection between prayer and the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire! Had the 11 and 109 other believers not obeyed that order, there would have been no Pentecostal outpouring, no Church, no Bride for Christ, no Pentecostal power, no redeemed human race.
            The apostle Peter, explained the secret of apostolic power to those who were persecuting them: “God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).

            A crowd of 120 believers obeyed the orders to go back into Jerusalem and start a prayer meeting (Acts 1:15). In Acts, chapter 2, we find that after they had tarried in prayer for 10 days Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” The wind is one of several symbols of the Holy Spirit. It came upon the 120 believers and breathed the life of the Spirit into them, bringing the miracle of the new birth.

            Then in Acts 2:3: “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. Fire is another symbol of the Holy Spirit. It seems to have first appeared in a solid cluster and then divided so that the fire rested upon each person. This spoke of both the unity and individuality of the body of Christ.

            But even more important, the fire was holy fire cleansing the hearts of all the Christian believers in that Upper Room. From the beginning, Christ would have a people inwardly cleansed and empowered to represent Him before a lost world for proclaiming His Gospel and reaping a harvest for the Kingdom of God.

            In Acts 2:4 we read that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

            Holy fire results in holy, redemptive power. Down below the Upper Room were thousands of Jewish pilgrims from all over the entire Mediterranean basin who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits. They would be the first to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ from those who had been filled with the Spirit. The 120 Spirit-filled believers had normally only spoken three languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and a few spoke Greek. But awaiting them down on street level were thousands representing 14 different languages and dialects.

            The Holy Spirit miraculously gifted the 120 with an utterance in all the languages needed for communicating with those who would hear the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The multitudes were about to hear the good news in their own mother tongues. If the sound of wind signified life and the sight of fire signified purity and power, the utterance in various languages signified the universality of the Gospel and its mandate for all nations.

            These 120 Spirit-filled believers filed out of that Upper Room and were down on street level scattering among the crowds uttering the praises of God and the good news that Christ had died an atoning death for all sinners.

            Peter, who weeks before had denied Jesus, now filled with the Holy Spirit addresses the crowds explaining what has happened. He explained their purpose in coming among them: God had poured out His Spirit upon them just as their prophet Joel had predicted. He told them that Jesus, whom they had crucified, had been raised from the dead, and that He had been exalted to heaven at the right hand of the Father. He continued, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

            Luke reports the miracle of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit on a multitude of the unbelieving listeners: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, Brothers, what shall we do?’” Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38).

            What was the result of Peter’s Spirit-inspired message? “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:41-47).

            Jesus foreknew the power of Pentecostal prayer. But first, He must find those who would engage in Pentecostal praying.

            In Hebrews 13:8 we read that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

            If we Christians of today had an ear to hear the Spirit’s call to prayer and would engage in Pentecostal intercession, the Church in the last days could have the greatest spiritual awakening in all the history of the Church. And a final mighty revival would prepare believers for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and it would also reap a harvest of lost souls for the Kingdom of God.

            Christians, let us understand that there can be no outpouring of the Spirit until we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways. Only then will He hear from Heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land (II Chronicles 7:14).



Friday, December 11, 2015

Preparing for the New Year - by Jim Tharp

We are completing the Advent season in celebrating the coming of our Savior into the world. And now it is time to consider what lies ahead in the coming new year of 2016 -- What priorities should we consider?

No doubt many will be thinking of finances. Some will be thinking of how to improve their health. Others will consider relationships.

But I believe we should all consider the values Jesus sought to bring to our attention when he asked, For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? (Luke 9:25)

But emphasizing eternal values, Jesus also commands us, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33). It seems that the more important material things become, the less secure one feels in pursuit of them.

Jesus knew that anxiety deceives. Earthly treasures are subject to moths, rust, and thieves. They can be destroyed or stolen. Banks can fail. Governments can collapse. Property can be confiscated. We need a security that transcends material things.

Jesus also knew that anxiety enslaves. Human beings seem to need a master; so often it is either God or mammon (Matthew 6:24). Blessed is the man or woman who discovers that in Christ we have true freedom, releasing us to achieve the purpose for which we were created. We can by making Christ Lord escape the idolatry and slavery that would force us into a false role in life.

Finally, Jesus also knows that anxiety paganizes. He knows that worry over the material, the present, the here-and-now can drive the human mind and heart to abnormal and dangerous obsessions.

Let each of us prepare for a new year by taking time to quiet our hearts before the Lord and ask for His guidance and grace for all that we will face throughout 2016. He knows our needs for the essentials of life. As we read in Matthew 6:33, if we put His will ahead of our own selfish interests, we’ll be amazed at how adequately He’ll meet our needs and release us from worry and fear in the process.

Let’s take time to pray, worship, study the Bible, and enjoy family and friends. Let us lay up treasures in Heaven this year by investing in Kingdom interests, sharing our Christian testimony, and fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Most important, let us spend time with family – praying together, worshiping together, and eating and laughing together.

Let’s ask God to help us walk each day in fellowship with His ungrieved Holy Spirit! And what a HAPPY NEW YEAR we’ll surely enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Revival Praying - Sermon For Sydney, MT - By James Tharp

Believing that as we move more deeply into the twenty-first century, that as Satanic forces intensify the program of the antichrist, we Christians must take Jesus’ warning of the times: He said, Because iniquity abounds, the love of many will wax cold!

I want to read two passages of Scripture: one from Genesis chapter six, where God looked down on the evil of the antediluvian world of Noah’s time and saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart (Gen. 6:5-6, NKJV).

Now I shall read from Isaiah 59, vv. 9-15, The Message, where God looks down on His Old Testament apostate people, decrying their condition, and the prophet is speaking for Jehovah: We long for light but sink into darkness, … we look for justice--not a sign of it. … Our wrongdoings pile up before you, God; … mocking and denying God, … Justice is beaten back, righteousness is banished to the sidelines, truth staggers down the street, honesty is nowhere to be found. Good is missing in action… 

But listen to God’s response from the NKJV to what He sees with the imploding society under evil influence: Here’s God’s Word through the prophet Isaiah: Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man (to intervene), and wondered that there was no intercessor (Isaiah 59:15-16, NKJV). Then we read in the NRSV that when He saw there was no one to intervene... He was APPALLED!

Ladies and gentlemen, a global fire is raging. The times that Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets foretold are upon us! The influence of the antichrist is building momentum. Nations are rising against nations. Earthquakes are in divers places. Famines, pestilences, tsunamis, and hurricanes are upon us. Fearful signs of violence, massacres, riots, anarchy, and rebellion are daily news reports right here in what was once a Christian, civilized nation!

Millions of American evangelicals are caught up in shocking fear, wondering what happened to their faith. Too many have ignored our Savior’s instructions as to His orders for our last days before His return. It must grieve God that in these times our family altars are broken down, our church’s prayer rooms are nearly empty, and few or no solemn assemblies are being called!

Surely, just as in Isaiah’s day, God must be looking down upon our twenty-first century America DISAPPOINTED, GRIEVED, and APPALLED that there are so few prayer warriors, so few intercessors, almost no one intervening with God for a tidal wave of spiritual power to push back the darkness.

But I do want to go back to Isaiah 59 once more for a powerful promise from God. Even after listing the evils of the day, here is God’s promise to His backslidden people -- but remember there is one condition, that of repentance and intercession. But here is the promise if His people would meet the condition: When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him (Isa. 59:19, NKJV).

God’s people! Called by His Name. Humble ourselves. Pray. Seek God’s face. Turn from our wicked ways -- cold hearts, carnal attitudes, gossip, disobedience, cheap worship, indifference, spiritual laziness, spiritual pride, division, sins of omission.

God will hear! God will forgive! God will heal our land -- our hearts, our marriages, our homes, our churches, our nation!

As Americans, we need to representatively beg God’s forgiveness for our national sins -- the desecration of marriage, the murder of millions of unborn babies, our materialistic idolatry, our cheap worship, our bondage to the world. We need what Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan used to call for -- seasons of repentance and fasting!

I’ve been urging our pastors in Southwest Montana to call for days and nights of “Solemn Assemblies.” Not too much response. It isn’t personally convenient. Nor is it politically correct. Nor is it congregationally pleasing. Nor do the invisible evil forces plan to allow it to happen. It will take a moving of God of deep conviction on people who have an ear to hear what God is saying in these confused times!

But I pray we’ll have an ear to hear what God is wanting to say to us here this week in Sydney, Montana.

I must be up front with you about the main essential of effectual, fervent prayer: I’m here this week to teach on Spirit-anointed prayer. But no one, and I mean NO ONE, can pray effectually, fervently, and successfully unless they are filled with the Spirit.

I meet too many Christians who know almost nothing about the Holy Spirit, even people who are members of Pentecostal and Holiness churches. They seem to think that if they ask God to sanctify them that they are automatically filled with the Spirit. Well, even if you’ve had a fulfilling experience of sanctification, but did not ask God to fill you with the Spirit, you will lack in power for prevailing prayer. But even getting filled with the Spirit is not enough. We often need fresh fillings of the Spirit, times of rekindling the fires of the Spirit. Why? Because most of us leak a lot! And too many Christians don’t repent. They think repenting when they got saved is all the repentance they need. So the sins pile up and unconfessed sin is not forgiven.

And another thing, God doesn’t fill a sinful heart with His Holy Spirit. First, there must be repentance and cleansing, and then we can ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Paul ordered the Corinthian Church to Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith (II Cor. 13:5, NIV). But this week I’m going to ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to search your hearts and see if you are Spirit-filled!

We go to Ephesians 5:18, NIV, which reads: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. This command is in the imperative mood -- meaning that it is a divine command, not a mere human suggestion. (Billy Graham on drunkenness).

This command is in the passive voice -- meaning it is not a human achievement, but a divine work of grace. 

This command is in the progressive perfect tense -- meaning that it is not a once-and-for-all experience; it is to be repeated time and time again. Keep on being filled with the Spirit.

Paul wrote Timothy in his second letter, Chap. 1:6-7, NIV: into flame (rekindle) the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

The greatest sin across the evangelical movement today is the sin of grieving, quenching, or ignoring the Holy Spirit.

We grow careless, busy, preoccupied, and spring a leak. We can neglect the Word, talk too much, lighten up on prayer, grow too cheap and shallow in worship, and become insensitive to the Holy Spirit without repenting and recharging our spiritual batteries. And yet we think we can go on and cover it up.

No, as Paul said to Timothy, “My Son, it’s time to rekindle the fires of the Spirit in your heart. Get back to the power and confidence and joy and love and glory of God in your life that you once knew. Get back to prayer, and get back to enjoying answers to your prayers. Get back to love, joy, and peace in your soul.

I’m speaking to Christians here tonight who need to become honest with God and confess your coldness of heart, your lack of real joy and power to overcome the temptation to speak unkindly. You allow too many things to cheapen your public and private worship. You’ve run out of gas, fire, hope, joy, and peace.

Don’t continue in this coldness-of-heart state! Don’t go deeper into lukewarmness. Get a rekindling of fire! Go for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and learn how to have times of refilling of the Spirit.

Pray in power! Worship in power! Give in power! Jesus promised, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.

What do you think would happen this week if three-fourths of us here tonight came before the Lord in the close of this service and confessed honestly before the Lord what the Spirit has been convicting us of over the last few weeks … what do you think will happen, if after our telling God we are repenting of these sins, we ask Him to fill us … You see, He will not fill an unclean vessel! We need to repent before we get the rekindling of the Spirit!

Christians need to repent!